National Grid is holding a non-statutory public consultation on its proposals to reinforce the electricity network between Bramford, in Suffolk, and Twinstead, in Essex.
As offshore wind generation increases, this project is essential to maintaining the resilience of the UK’s electricity networks and is critical to connect more people across East Anglia, and the UK, to cleaner power. The consultation will open on Thursday 25 March and will run for 6 weeks until Thursday 6 May 2021.
While the Bramford to Twinstead connection was initially proposed in 2009, work was paused in 2013 after the delivery of new generation projects in the region were delayed. Now the connection is again required to meet the increased demand for clean energy, National Grid will engage with local communities to inform the development of the project.
Aaron Zuill, Senior Project Manager for Bramford to Twinstead commented: “The UK’s transition to more renewable energy provides a great opportunity to deliver a more sustainable future for all, but it is critical that we have the infrastructure in place to support the ambitious Government plans to provide 40GW of electricity from offshore wind by 2030.
"Our connection between Bramford and Twinstead is essential to bringing more clean energy to homes and businesses across the UK and to meeting these targets. We are looking forward to hearing from local residents and businesses in the region as we develop our proposals, and I’d encourage everyone to get involved”.
In line with Government restrictions during the pandemic, National Grid’s consultation will include an online interactive website www.nationalgrid.com/bramford-twinstead. National Grid will also be holding a series of webinars and live chats for local people to find out more about the proposals. Details about how to register for those and how to give feedback are on the project website.
Residents who prefer to respond to the consultation via post can receive a printed copy of the feedback form and freepost envelope by calling the telephone information line on 0808 196 1515.
Full details, including how to obtain printed copies of consultation documents, will be provided in a community newsletter to everyone along the route.
There will be a further opportunity to comment on detailed proposals later in the year, before an application is made for planning consent.
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The construction of the Bramford to Twinstead transmission connection requires the granting of a Development Consent Order (DCO). This is a special type of planning application for nationally significant infrastructure projects, where an independent inspector is appointed to review the plans. Once submitted, it can take up to 18 months for the inspector to review the application. The inspector will then issue a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who will make the final decision. National Grid anticipates submitting a DCO application for the Bramford to Twinstead project in 2023. However, before doing so there will be a further round of statutory public consultation which is due to take place later this year..
The existing transmission network in East Anglia was developed in the 1960s to meet electricity demand in the area. Until today it has been able to meet that demand and provide around 3.5 GW of power carrying capability out of the region. By 2030, the amount of renewable and low carbon energy connecting to the network will dramatically increase; just under 23 GW is contracted to connect in East Anglia by the end of this decade.
The existing network in East Anglia does not have the capability needed to reliably and securely transport all the energy that will be connected by 2030 while operating to the required standards. Feeding into Bramford substation from the north and east there are three electricity transmission lines – carrying power generated by the existing Sizewell B station and offshore wind farms. West of Bramford out to Twinstead Tee, there is currently only one electricity transmission line taking that power out to the wider network.
Between 2009 and 2013 work was previously undertaken to develop proposals to add this much needed network capability. Changes to when planned new generation would come online in East Anglia meant that work was put on hold at the end of 2013. Now that the reinforcement is needed again, National Grid needs to take forward the work required to ensure it is in place before the end of the decade.
Consultation and national lockdown
Due to Government advice surrounding social distancing and large public gatherings, National Grid will not be able to hold face-to-face public consultation events. To ensure everyone has access to the information and is able to participate in the consultation National Grid will provide detailed information about its proposals on its dedicated project website as well as providing information through more traditional consultation methods, such as newsletters, posting paper copies and providing copies of project documents and information in a number of easily accessible locations along the route. Members of the public will have opportunity to provide their comments online, via telephone, or via post. Their feedback will help inform the development of the proposals.